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Keywords:

  • Cytoplasmic;
  • Drosophila melanogaster;
  • genetic variation;
  • mtDNA;
  • offence

Abstract

Recent studies have advocated a role for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in sperm competition. This is controversial because earlier theory and empirical work suggested that mitochondrial genetic variation for fitness is low. Yet, such studies dealt only with females and did not consider that variation that is neutral when expressed in females, might be non-neutral in males as, in most species, mtDNA is never selected in males. We measured male ability to compete for fertilizations, at young and late ages, across 25 cytoplasms expressed in three different nuclear genetic backgrounds, within a population of Drosophila melanogaster. We found no cytoplasmic (thus no mtDNA) genetic variation for either male offence or offensive sperm competitiveness. This contrasts with previous findings demonstrating cytoplasmic genetic variation for female fitness and female ageing across these same lines. Taken together, this suggests that mitochondrial genes do not contribute to variation in sperm competition at the within-population level.